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Arkansas Derby

The Arkansas Derby is the most lucrative thoroughbred horse race in Arkansas, currently offering a “purse” of $1 million. The purse is the prize money that is divided among the horses competing in the race, based upon their finish, with the winner receiving sixty percent ($600,000). The one-and-one-eighth-mile race is restricted to horses that are three years old. It is traditionally held each year at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs (Garland County) on the second Saturday of April. Over time, it has developed into one of the nation’s leading preparatory races for the Triple Crown, which comprises the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Belmont Stakes.

The Arkansas Derby was first held in 1936 and carried a $5,000 purse. The winner that year was Holl Image, who went on to finish sixth in the Kentucky Derby. The purse was increased to $50,000 in 1965, and it became Oaklawn’s first $100,000 race in 1972. The purse underwent several more increases throughout the years and was raised to $1 million in 2004, the year the track celebrated its centennial.

The race has been held every year since 1936, with the exception of 1945, when Oaklawn was forced to cancel its entire racing meet because of World War II. The race was run in two divisions in 1960 to accommodate a large number of horses. The Arkansas Derby has been won by one female horse—Althea in 1984. Althea also holds the record for the fastest Arkansas Derby time of 1:46.8.

The first Arkansas Derby winner to win a Triple Crown race was Elocutionist, who won the 1976 race and that year’s Preakness Stakes. Sunny’s Halo became the race’s first Kentucky Derby winner in 1983. Someday Farm’s Smarty Jones won the Arkansas Derby in 2004 and earned a $5 million bonus for also winning Oaklawn’s Southwest and Rebel stakes and the Kentucky Derby. Smarty Jones followed his Kentucky Derby triumph by winning the Preakness Stakes and just missed winning the Triple Crown after taking second in the Belmont Stakes. In 2015, American Pharoah won the Arkansas Derby and followed that up by becoming the first Triple Crown winner in thirty-seven years. As of 2015, the Arkansas Derby has produced six Kentucky Derby winners, eleven Preakness Stakes winners, and six Belmont Stakes winners.

List of Arkansas Derby Winners

2017

Classic Empire

2016

Creator

2015

American Pharoah

2014

Danza

2013

Overanalyze

2012

Bodemeister

2011

Archarcharch

2010

Line of David

2009

Papa Clem

2008

Gayego

2007

Curlin

2006

Lawyer Ron

2005

Afleet Alex

2004

Smarty Jones

2003

Sir Cherokee

2002

Private Emblem

2001

Balto Star

2000

Graeme Hall

1999

Certain

1998

Victory Gallop

1997

Crypto Star

1996

Zarb’s Magic

1995

Dazzling Falls

1994

Concern

1993

Rockamundo

1992

Pine Bluff

1991

Olympio

1990

Silver Ending

1989

Dansil

1988

Proper Reality

1987

Demons Begone

1986

Rampage

1985

Tank’s Prospect

1984

Althea

1983

Sunny’s Halo

1982

Hostage

1981

Bold Ego

1980

Temperence Hill

1979

Golden Act

1978

Esops Foibles

1977

Clever Tell

1976

Elocutionist

1975

Promised City

1974

J.R.’s Pet

1973

Impecunious

1972

No Le Hace

1971

Twist the Axe

1970

Herbalist

1969

Traffic Mark

1968

Nodouble

1967

Monitor

1966

Better Sea

1965

Swift Ruler

1964

Prince Davelle

1963

Cosmic Tip

1962

Areopolis

1961

Light Talk

1960, First Division

Spring Broker

1960, Second Division

Persian Gold

1959

Al Davelle

1958

Count Deblanc

1957

Kentucky Roman

1956

Johns Chic

1955

Trim Destiny

1954

Timely Tip

1953

Curragh King

1952

Gushing Oil

1951

Ruhe

1950

Big Ike

1949

Cacomo

1948

Fertile Lands

1947

Fleetridge

1946

Bob Murphy

1945

No Running

1944

Challenge Me

1943

Seven Hearts

1942

With Regards

1941

He Rolls

1940

Super Chief

1939

Ariel Toy

1938

Tiger

1937

Eastport

1936

Holl Image

 

 

For additional information:
A Century of Excitement, Oaklawn 1904–2004. Media Guide. Hot Springs, AR: Oaklawn Park, 2004.

Oaklawn Racing and Gaming. http://www.oaklawn.com/ (accessed May 20, 2014).

Jennifer Hoyt
Oaklawn Racing and Gaming

Last Updated 6/19/2017

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